Manchester United opened their home account with a 3-0 victory over North London side Tottenham Hotspur, which worked out to be United’s seventeenth victory over Spurs at Old Trafford in the Premier League (out of twenty clashes). The first half was quite an even affair, with limited chances for either side. United failed to grab hold of the midfield battle, against a more physical duo in Livermore and Kranjcar, although Anderson and Cleverley showed their class in the second half, zipping the ball around and breaking forward to support Welbeck and Rooney, who were higher up the pitch second half. Welbeck, Jones and Anderson shined in a 3-0 win against a side who, due to the riots in London, were forced to postpone their opening fixture against Everton, and did lack match fitness towards the end. Here we discuss the talking points of an impressive youthful performance from United.
Anderson, Welbeck and Jones the star performers
I’ve always been a fan of Anderson. The Brazilian midfielder has now reached six competitive United career goals (and lets not forget that famous penalty in 2008) in 97 starts for the club, not the best return for a player with such capable gifts on the football field. His performances last season, from November 2010 onwards especially, started to highlight his promise as a box to box midfielder – who was capable of breaking into the box. Anderson’s only problem arising from his eagerness to push forward was his wayward shooting, which at times would end up in the Stretford End. He has demonstrated against Valencia and Schalke that he can indeed finish, indicating his improvement in front of goal – however, I fully expect him to push on further this season and begin to dominate games – something I would presumed would happen earlier following the potential he showed in his debut season.
Anderson was top class in the second half tonight. The Brazilian only misplaced one pass in the second half and scored an excellent goal following an exceptional piece of skill from Danny Welbeck 15 minutes from time. The United number 19 had earlier opened the scoring from an excellent Tom Cleverley cross for the England forward to notch his second United goal, the first coming against Stoke City nearly three years ago. I thought Welbeck had done well in recent games, but there had been better performers for me. However, in the second half – following his goal especially – Welbeck oozed class, taking on defenders and stretching the game – something Sir Alex Ferguson commented post match that he wanted more of following the first half performance. His backheel to Anderson for the second was quite brilliant and finished the game off. Sir Alex now has a tough decision with the return of Javier Hernandez following injury, and of course with the mercurial Berbatov kicking his heels on the sidelines – however, the old cliché is that it is some headache to have.
Phil Jones made one of the most impressive full league debuts that I can remember for a long time. Impressive by what I saw of him last season, I was delighted when he signed earlier in the summer, following enquiries from both Arsenal and Liverpool. From what I’ve seen (in our games against Rovers and these early games) he appears to be a great reader of the game and makes some exceptional interceptions and last ditch tackles. I remember an excellent block last May to stop Ryan Giggs scoring against Rovers and tonight he put a superb tackle in on the pacey Bale in the second half to stop the Welshman from crosses the ball to the onrushing Defoe and Van der Vaart. There is no doubt that when Vidic returns to the fold following injury, he will reclaim his place in the centre of defence – however, in his reported five week absence – United have an extremely impressive replacement in Jones.
United fully deserved the win tonight after an extremely impressive display from a very youthful side. Tom Cleverley was impressive in the second half, moving the ball around with ease alongside the industrious Anderson. His superb ball in for the opener was exceptional and shows the quality the boy has in his distribution of the football. Welbeck, who was the main beneficiary of Cleverley’s exceptional cross, turned creator for the second goal as he back heeled the ball into the path of the galloping Anderson who side footed the ball passed the stranded Brad Friedel. Wayne Rooney completed the scoring with a header three minutes from time following an excellent cross from substitute Ryan Giggs. United now host an under fire Arsenal on Sunday – with many Reds hopeful of a back to back win over North London sides.